Sunday, June 21, 2015

Reformation, Transition, Transformation

The single most profound effect the church has experienced over the last five hundred years is the Reformation. After all, all the denominations of the protestant world are the result of the Reformation. It is interesting that during that time, that is the beginning of, and formation of the reformation was a time of upheaval. Families and friends were divided over what they believed to be true. People were labeled heretics, and sometimes killed. The Reformation was not a smooth transition. No, the people involved in it paid a real price for change.

I believe that we are in the beginning of another change in Christianity. This change will be even more profound than the last one. It is definitely a transition period, and that is obvious wherever one looks these days within the ranks of Christianity. For some reason, people do not readily welcome change. It is disquieting to say the least. Institutions provide a stability of sorts, and they do not relinquish power and control without a fight. The fact remains that Christianity, the church is in transition, and the very heart and soul of the kingdom is at stake. Transition is an action and for every action there is a counter reaction. Evangelical Christianity has a large reactionary element these days and for a time, it will grow even more intense.

This is obvious as you look at the various battle grounds with lines drawn in the proverbial sand. Marriage, gender, social justice are the areas where the battle rages. These are the areas of action and reaction. However, the real change is happening at a more basic theological place. This is the only area where the change that comes from transition will find its ultimate fulfillment in transformation. What must and will take place is a change in how one views the scripture and the gospel. The root of the current transition is doctrinal. So many want to avoid this but, alas it cannot be done.

As a blogger, I have a modest but larger than average amount of Facebook friends. I am asked to add a few weekly. What I see as I look at my news-feed is a fundamental divide that seems to be widening and growing more and more toxic. Of my Facebook friends, I dare say that 80 to 90% are there because of Christianity and my blogging about it. Because I have a definite belief in Jesus as Savior and Lord, I realize that my writing, at times, attracts both sides of this divide. Yes, I have the outspoken action oriented people, and I also have the outspoken reactionary  individuals. I am confident that many, probably most of both sides, are very sincere and have sincere faith in Jesus Christ. Yet, they are in every way polar opposites, and if I were to get them together in a room, no doubt a fight would break out that would not bring surprise if it turned violent. 

So what is the key for this period of transition? Is it still more reformation or is it something quite new, is it transformation? I think it may be beneficial to define the three terms in the title, Reformation, Transition, and Transformation. They are defined as follows:
Reformation; the action or process of reforming an institution or practice.

Transition; the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.

Transformation; a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance; a metamorphosis; the induced or spontaneous change of one element into another by a nuclear process.
Reformation does not work because it does not change the underlying structure. It merely reforms it. The change that we face, and the necessary characteristics of that change is transformation. It has to change at the most elemental level. It is nuclear. The main premise of this blog is that Christian doctrine as we know it today is fundamentally, elementally flawed. It is flawed in the following ways:
  1. The view of scripture is flawed. It is viewed as a legal constitutional document when it should be viewed as the story of redemption.
  2. The doctrine of Christ is flawed as it does not see Christ as the all in all.
  3. The doctrine of atonement is flawed as it is viewed in a penal substitution way and not as Christ being victorious.
  4. The doctrine of last things is flawed as it does not see that all things have already been made new and that the new heaven and earth, the New Jerusalem, is a current reality to be apprehended by faith.
  5. And most of all, the doctrine of the actual transformation is flawed because it does not acknowledge that grace and justification are the sole ingredients to the ultimate change. 
If one were to take the time to read in depth the articles on this blog it would be easy to find out that the above points are correct and that Christian doctrine is so flawed that nothing outside of transformation will correct it. I challenge you to thoughtfully read this blog from beginning to end and allow the scripture itself to speak to this. There is more than enough scripture cited in this blog to make up for the lack of it in this post.

As for me, I will settle for nothing short of total transformation!
 
 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

God became the *ALL IN ALL* through Jesus Christ, Do we believe it?

Let's take a look at Paul's prayer for all disciples and see what we find out about Jesus actually being "God all in all (1Cor 15:28.) You find the words of this prayer in Ephesians chapter one.
"Eph 1:17-23 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: (18) The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, (19) And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, (20) Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, (21) Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: (22) And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, (23) Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all."
 
We know that in the risen Jesus the fullness of the godhead dwells in bodily form Col 2:9. Why is it that so many churches are putting the emphasis on Yahweh and not Jesus? If you listen to most sermons, most Sundays, you will find that God generically is worshipped and proclaimed, and that Jesus is relegated to a subservient place. He may get two or three minutes at the end of the sermon in the altar call but for the most part that is it.

In 70AD, at the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem, the fact is, that Jesus enemies were put under his feet. God had manifested who his sons and daughters really were and they were all, both Jew and Gentile that believed in Jesus. The kingdom was turned over to God except that the fullness of the godhead dwells in Jesus. Jesus is God. In Revelation 19 we are told that Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Therefore, our preaching should solely be about Jesus, and our worship should go to Jesus solely. This is the gospel message. God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, and when it was reconciled, God chose for the fullness of the Godhead to dwell bodily in Jesus Christ.


Look at the Prophet Isaiah's words: (Isa 9:6-7 NLT) " For a Child is born to us, a Son is given to us. The government will rest on His shoulders. And He will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (7) His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of His ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the LORD of Heaven's Armies will make this happen!" It is as plain as day, I used the NLT to make certain that we did not misunderstand the message... The Son that was given, the child that was born is EVERLASTING FATHER. Let's get our priorities straight and begin to worship Jesus with the worship he is due!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Does the author of the book of Hebrews, equate sin and unbelief and are they synonymous?

As we have shown before in many articles on this blog. Jesus and his first century followers redefined the phrase word of God, and used a solely redemptive hermeneutic that saw Jesus as the fulfillment, and purpose of all the scripture. This makes progressive revelation very important. Progressive revelation means that the Spirit gave more and more specific details about prophecy as prophetic events unfolded and that the revelation that came later must temper our view of previous revelation. Along with this, it likewise makes sense that the Spirit would speak with in the cultural development of people. This makes looking at what the New Testament writers wrote very important in determining what the exact meaning of passages, phrases and words was. One cannot take the previous revelation at face value.

It is obvious when one reads Hebrews 3 & 4 that the writer equates sin and unbelief. In fact, I think that it is safe to say that when one looks at the term sin, missing the mark, that the first definition one should use is unbelief. The original sin in Genesis was a sin of unbelief. Adam and Eve believed Satan who had contradicted God instead of believing God, so the sin, that entered into the world (Romans 5:12) was unbelief. So let's look at a different and perhaps more correct way to write Romans 5:12...
"Rom 5:12-14 Therefore, just as unbelief entered the world through one man, and death through unbelief, in this way death spread to all men, because all did not believe. (13) In fact, unbelief was in the world before the law, but unbelief is not charged to a person's account when there is no law. (14) Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who did not disbelieve in the likeness of Adam's transgression. He is a prototype of the Coming One."
This is precisely why Romans 6:17 mentions obeying from the heart. Obeying from the heart is believing the gospel message plain and simply, and it is what puts one in right standing with God. The actions that current evangelical dogma calls sin is merely a symptom of unbelief. Here is where an entire fellowship, believing the gospel, and that grace is the driving force will reinforce an atmosphere of rest that will promote love, and supernaturally transform individuals. Getting this concept right... that in the New Covenant sin and unbelief are synonymous... is very important in setting that proper atmosphere.

So let's get back to Hebrews and the use of sin, disobedience, and unbelief. When you read Hebrews 3:17 - 19 it becomes glaringly obvious that the writer interchanges sin, unbelief and disobedience. This is a concept that one needs to bring back to the entire scripture. The proof in the pudding so to speak is Hebrews 10:26-27....
Heb 10:26-27 For if we deliberately (disbelieve, sin, disobey) after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, (27) but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire about to consume the adversaries.
The above passage receives the clarity that the writer of Hebrews intended. There has been so much made of this verse, but the reality is simple. If we willfully disbelieve after hearing the truth. There is not other sacrifice for sin.  The preponderance of the evidence mounts for a drastic paradigm shift from evangelical dogma.

 



 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Do you have a New Covenant paradigm or and Old Covenant paradigm? How to recognize which


Let me make this clear. If you are a Gentile believer, then the only possible covenant for you to be under is the New Covenant. Yet, this blog has been devoted to recognizing and correcting error in the doctrine of the evangelical church. Let me broaden that to the church in general. While I am writing with the evangelical Christian in mind, what I write is true about the entire Christian Church. Let's revisit this premise one more time to be sure there is clarity. There is a big discrepancy between the doctrine of the church fathers and the doctrine of the first century apostolic writers who wrote the New Testament. The first century apostolic writers wrote that the word of God was the gospel, and that scripture had a solely redemptive purpose. How can I make that assertion you ask? That is easy, Jesus stated it in John 5:39-40 and again in Luke 24:27; 43-45.

However, if you listen to most Sunday morning sermons across the world, you will find that you are taught that the entire scripture is the word of God, and that the focal purpose of scripture is to modify behavior and lifestyle. Most treat salvation as a one time experience from hearing the gospel message, and then go on to teach an Old Covenant approach to the Law. I have many times referred to this as "Nike Slogan" Christians whose motto is "just do it!"

So what is a New Covenant paradigm anyway? That is simple. It is a paradigm that puts Jesus Christ and redemption at the forefront of everything. That is, every sermon, every song, every prayer, every praise and all worship. It is a paradigm that acknowledges and understand the pre-eminence of Romans 5:1. It is a paradigm that realizes that peace with God is the most important driving force in the transformation process. It is a paradigm that encourages rest in the finished work of the cross and total efficacy of the blood of Jesus in reconciliation.

The New Covenant paradigm acknowledges that God emptied his divinity to become humanity like us, and then forsook all ego in the humiliating death of the cross. It is the forsaking of the ego, with faith in the eternal that made all the difference in the world and is the reason that all of our devotion, worship, love should be focused on Jesus Christ and Him alone.

And still, every Sunday, the Old Covenant paradigm drones on and on in sermon upon sermon that seldom acknowledges the supremacy of Christ. The Old Covenant paradigm, ignores in practice, the Christ centered focus that heals the wounded soul. And the accuser of the brethren is given voice to tear down and discourage rather than build up and encourage.

As we have shown in other posts, what Paul meant when he authored "faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God" he meant very specifically that faith cometh from hearing the gospel. It is the gospel that encourages, and the seasoned saint needs to hear it often to be encouraged, and to overcome the works of the devil. The New Covenant paradigm will always uplift, and it will always center on the person and work of Jesus of Nazareth the Savior of the world! 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Arriving at the Paradigm Shift: A preponderance of evidence IV


Here is one of many such verses that shows that the first century apostles meant gospel when they used the phrase word of God.  Act 6:7 " The word of God continued to spread; the number of the disciples increased greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith." It is not the scripture that spread. No, it's the gospel that spread. In context it can mean no other thing. Now, this is but one of many isolated examples of a preponderance of verses in the New Testament writings that show the first century writers  redefining the phrase the word of God. When you look at all the passages, the preponderance is so great that it defies reason to wonder why no one sees it. I say that there is a theological reason. I think that over the years people fear that if one accepts the New Testament definition of the phrase "word of God," that the scripture somehow becomes diminished. That could not be further from the truth.

If the majority teaching of the apostolic writers was that the word of God is the gospel, and that the purpose of scripture is solely redemptive it would give far more credence and authority to the scripture for many more people today. The agnostics and liberal theologians would lose 99% of their critical ammunition. I dare say that most of the biblical criticism crowd would lose the lion share of their arguments.

Seeing the biblical narrative as a redemptive metaphor while acknowledging the way in which it mirrors the development of civilization would completely silence the critics. I am fascinated by the way that the development of civilization as defined by spiral dynamics and integral theory lines up so exactly with the development spiral in the biblical record. If you are a serious biblical student you should take a look at these three videos by Doug King at Presence.tv. I would especially recommend the first post, but if possible, view all three. It makes sense that God would reveal himself within the cultural understanding of the people at the time.

I am trying to set your mind at ease. You need not worry because Jesus and his first century followers saw the scripture in redemptive terms only. Look at John 8:3-11. It is interesting to me that the Jews at the time of Jesus, all zealous for the Law (Acts 21:20) did not practice stoning adulterers. They only brought a single case to test Jesus' zeal of the Law. The truth is that they did not practice stoning of adulterers at all. However, they did stone what they thought were blasphemers (Acts 7.) The reason for this was they saw that some of the Christian teaching was challenging their status quo. My point here is that as culture changed, adherence to the law changed. They had found a way to make it so that virtually no one was stoned for adultery. I am not saying that they were tolerant of adultery but rather that they had changed the way in which they dealt with it.


This is why spiral dynamics is important in our biblical view. It is also one of the reasons for the doctrine that we have today. Christian doctrine has been handed down from the end of the second century forward and it is mostly constructed by the early church fathers and added too by subsequent writers. It is important to understand that the bulk of Christian dogma was constructed under the blue lens... for an understanding of the blue lens view the video links in this blog post.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Arriving at the Paradigm Shift: A preponderance of evidence IIl

In the last two posts I have talked about the preponderance of evidence that led to my paradigm shift. So this question comes to mind; what should this mean to the church, its doctrine, its worship, and its faith and practice? When I mention the church I mean those who are believing in Jesus as the redeemer. I mean the universal body of believers, the catholic church, small c.

First off, it only makes sense that when one identifies as a believer in Jesus Christ, that they would follow what Jesus, and his first century apostolic writers taught. This means that they would look at the scripture from a redemptive view and not as a legal constitutional document. It means that they would define and teach that the word of God is the gospel or Jesus the living good news. When John wrote that the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, he meant that the gospel (good news) became flesh and dwelt among men. He certainly did not mean that the scripture became flesh and dwelt among men. Therefore, the gospel should be the main focus of all Christians and Christian Churches. The gospel is as refreshing, if not more refreshing to the seasoned saint as it is to the new one. The gospel is the main defensive weapon against the accuser of the brethren. The gospel is the necessary re-assurance that promotes resting in the peace with the Father which only comes from justification by faith.

A follower of Christ should not use the scripture in a legal constitutional way. Even the instructions in the epistles that sound like commandments should not be viewed in a legal constitutional way. When they are the result is ALWAYS spiritual death and striving to please God in the flesh. They can only be efficacious when one is resting in redemption by faith alone. I am not saying that they cannot show the heart of God, and cannot be used to encourage godliness. I am saying that when they are used with a legal constitutional understanding or focus they always, always, always become a killing letter. This is precisely why the gospel has to be the main focus.

Christians, should worship Jesus. Paul tells us that in the risen Lord Jesus Christ, all of the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily (Col 2:9.) Further, Isaiah prophesied that would be the case (Is 9:6-7.) The King of Kings and Lord of Lords in Revelation 19 is Jesus. The name of Jesus is to be worshipped by every tongue, and every bowing knee. When Jesus is worshipped there is a special anointing that can come in no other way. It is the name of Jesus that saves, heals, cleanses, and comforts. Why is the name of Jesus mentioned so little, and so many sermons are just a rehashing of Old Covenant messages that do not in any way point to Christ. Jesus said that the entire scripture points to him (John 5:39-40; Luke 24:27, 43-45.) If you use the Old Testament scripture it had better point directly to Jesus if you are a Christian and if it does not you should not use it.

In faith and practice every Christian should be resting completely in Romans 5:1. If you are a following believer of Jesus Christ you should be allowing the love of God and peace with God to be the driving catalyst of your life. A proper understanding of the apostle's doctrine (Acts 2:42) would promote real transformation in the life of the believer. Not reformation. That seems to be the main business of the evangelical, institutional church, and it is just flat out the wrong focus. It is no wonder church doctrine is so far off the mark.

I am going to be writing in this vane for a while so why not go over a lot of these posts and see the preponderance of the evidence for a paradigm shift?

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Arriving at the Paradigm Shift: A preponderance of evidence II

In the last post I explained the process of the twenty year journey to my paradigm shift. Again as I stated in the last post the paradigm shift is the result of a preponderance of evidence. This is a legal term that is a standard of proof in civil trials. It is not as high as beyond a reasonable doubt, which means that a person is 99.89% sure of the facts presented. The preponderance of evidence means that it is far more likely to be true than to be false.  I would estimate that in the case of my paradigm shift, I am 80 - 90% certain of the facts. And, as time goes on, and as I study more, this increases and more and more evidence piles up.

So what is the substance of my paradigm shift? What doctrinal issues have changed? How is it different from mainstream evangelical doctrine or orthodox doctrine? In summary, it is apparent to me, that the early church father's doctrine, which has been brought forward to today from the second century, does not square with the apostle's doctrine mentioned (though not defined) in Acts 2:42. There is a large discrepancy between the apparent doctrine of the first century church found in the apostolic writings, and what has been handed down as orthodox doctrine. This discrepancy is the source of my paradigm shift.

The first discrepancy is found in the respective views of the scripture. Israel, viewed their scripture in a legal constitutional way. They did this no doubt based upon their plain sense reading and study of the entire old testament. Jesus and the apostle's shifted to a redemptive reading of scripture which saw Jesus as Messiah and claimed that the entire scripture pointed to Him (John 5:39-40.) Interestingly, the early church fathers went back to viewing the scripture in a legal constitutional way, and while they maintained a semblance of the redemptive focus, they did not make it the prime focus as did Jesus and the apostolic writers.

The second discrepancy lies in the fact that Jesus and the apostolic writers redefined the phrase *word of God* from scripture to gospel and Jesus the living gospel. This is true in most of the passages mentioning the phrase in the entire apostolic writings (New Testament) and completely from Acts forward. This fact has been proven over and over in the posts on this blog. Again, it is interesting that the early church fathers went back to defining the phrase *word of God* as the scripture. The first century apostolic use of the phrase meaning gospel adds weight to the redemptive focus of scripture.

The third discrepancy lies in the fact that the apostolic writers in the New Testament saw the end of the age and eschatology as something contemporary with them. The preponderance of scripture passages that demonstrate this are overwhelming. The first century apostolic writers saw great eschatological significance in the destruction of the second temple and the early church fathers ignored it for the most part.

These discrepancies alone show a great difference between what the first century apostolic writers thought, wrote and prophesied in the New Testament, and what the writings of the early church fathers concluded. It is so great a difference that one could safely call the doctrine brought forward from the second century to be the strong delusion, prophesied by Paul in 2Thess 2:11.

Again, I urge you to read the bulk of these posts to look at the preponderance of evidence pointing to the fact that evangelical doctrine is off the mark.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Arriving at the Paradigm Shift: A preponderance of evidence

As the Holy Spirit has shifted my paradigm with scriptural illumination, I find myself in the precarious position of not being able to go back to the old paradigm, and business as usual. More than that, I know that the Lord does not want me to. To participate in the old paradigm is tantamount to approving it. I could no more participate in the old paradigm than a catfish could survive on dry land. This presents certain problems for me because the paradigm shift has happened over a twenty-year period. Interestingly, the basic core of the paradigm shift came all at once; I intuitively knew it to be true, and even trusted in it based upon the unction of the Holy Spirit and this was almost instantaneous from the beginning twenty-plus years ago.

However, the proof has come over a twenty year period, and has been the result of much study of the scripture. I dare say that I studied sometimes, all day, and I am quite certain that if I averaged it all out it would amount to at least two and one half hours of study per day, seven days a week, for 20 years. If I do the math it would be conservatively speaking 18,250 hours of study. During this study, I have written at least 2,000 pages of writing which would average out to 1,140,000 words. I am not boasting as I am sure that others have studied more but it is clear that I have not adopted the paradigm shift lightly.

It should be fairly easy to see why not many are willing to instantly embrace my paradigm shift and yet, I see the Holy Spirit moving many people in the same direction and admittedly, there are those who have surpassed me. So I say without reservation that my paradigm shift comes with a preponderance of evidence. Anyone willing to study and listen would after a while see that there is indeed a preponderance of evidence for the shift. It is indeed a valid way to look at the biblical narrative, and of course, I think that it is the best way.

I have gradually over time gained the courage to ask tougher and tougher questions about the biblical narrative. In so doing, I have grown fonder of it, and much more convinced of its inspiration. I no longer struggle over the many paradigm shifts that are clearly presented within the pages of the sacred text. There are drastic changes of paradigm over the scripture from Genesis to Revelation. They coincide nicely with the cultural development of society. It is imperative to understand historical context within the pages of scripture. Here are some important things to consider, some important questions to ask when examining the sacred text.
  1. Who was the intended audience, what would they have thought and what would have been the meaning for them?
  2. What were the cultural conditions of the occasion that caused the text to be written?
  3. How do they compare with what we face today culturally?
  4. What were their beliefs about redemption, eschatology, the Messiah etc.?
  5. What if any are the overriding themes that link the narrative together as a whole?
  6. What was the actual meaning of the original language and where there are obvious discrepancies from one text to the other, what was the likely intended meaning?
I will end this post here, but I hope that some of you will begin to take the journey through the many posts on this blog that will begin to show the preponderance of proof for the accuracy of the paradigm shift. I will say this. So much of what we call Christian doctrine in mainline evangelical churches is pathetically off the mark!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Audience Relevance: Who was the intended audience of the New Testament?

What did the close of the age mean to the first century readers of the New Testament? Were they expecting the end of the world or was it something different? In order to examine this we have to look at what the first century, second temple Jew would have understood end of the age to mean. We are in luck thanks to the dead sea scrolls.

The King James Problem:
The KJV of the bible is very good in most cases but not when it comes to eschatology in the gospels. The KJV renders aion world in Matthew 13:39 et. al. passages and that is just a bad translation. Aion in the Greek is age. So then, Matthew 13:39 speaks of the end or the close of the age and not the end of the world. It is not the end of the space time continuum for certain. That is not what was meant by the first century, second temple Jews. And yet, the recipients of the messages recorded in the gospels were solely to first century, second temple Jews. While it is very likely that some were written for congregations that were primarily Gentiles, the words recorded told of events that happened to first century, second temple Jews. In other words, the intended audience of the words spoken by Jesus, John the Baptist and others were strictly first century, second temple Jews.

Now that we have solved the King James problem, let's look at its implications. That means that the intended audience of the New Testament writings was those in the first century while the second temple still stood. The best place to understand their thinking on the matter is to look at the community who wrote/copied the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The Dead Sea Scrolls are divided into three types of documents. First was their copies of the scripture. They spent much of their time copying the scripture. Secondly, they wrote about their interpretation of the scripture, especially the Prophets and most especially Isaiah. And thirdly, they wrote about the rules for their community. Because of this, we can get a very good idea of what they thought about many things and one of the main things they were concerned with was eschatology. Therefore, the meaning of the end of the age was made quite clear in their writings. They often referred to it as the end of the evil age and thus, the beginning of a better age to come. They did not refer to the end of the planet and a new existence in heaven. While they were expecting a battle of Armageddon, they were not expecting the end of the planet.

Now, when you read carefully the pages of the New Testament you see that the beliefs of the Christian communities were very similar to that of the Essenes at Qumran which is the group responsible for creating the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is safe to say that the early Christian communities were not expecting an end of the planet. Apocalyptic language is figurative and not literal. The melting of the heavens and the earth and fire and brimstone and coming on clouds is part of the apocalyptic language and is figurative.

We really mislead our audiences when we proclaim that we are now in the last days or the eschaton. The truth is that they were. You can find that in many of the New Testament writings. As an example, Paul wrote the Corinthians telling them that they were the ones on whom the end of the ages had come, (1 Cor 10:11.)

The paradigm shift will go a long way to help us present a much more clear understanding. It will offer more hope for believers.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

An atonement theory for the paradigm shift Part I

First off, I need to lay some foundational ground work before I finalize an atonement theory. To begin with I will acknowledge that there are several atonement theories that have been presented over the history of the church. I will provide a link that will give you a concise overview of atonement theories. Please keep reading this post before you go to the link which will take you to Theopedia.

If we want to be able to present Christ to the world, especially the generations coming, we must find a coherent compelling atonement theory that gives meaning to the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. It should be a unified theory that makes sense of the biblical data. I think it should be a theory that will show the benefit of trusting in Christ even if one thinks that all paths lead to God.

Don't blow an aorta, I did not say that all paths lead to God, rather I said that the atonement theory should give compelling meaning, significance and benefit to ALL *even if* one believes all paths lead to God. If you believe that all paths lead to God, don't get all riled up as I am not saying that they don't. In other words, whether you do or don't I want to make clear that this atonement theory will show the benefit of believing in Jesus either way.

It is also imperative that the atonement theory acknowledges the facts that I have shown to be overwhelmingly true in this blog. For example, it must fit with the writer of Hebrews assertion that sin and unbelief are synonymous and that the original sin is unbelief. To add to this I must fit with Paul's teaching that faith is obedience and that obedience equals faith. The writer of Hebrews boldly states that without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6.) Likewise, the atonement theory must square with the assertion of the problem found in Genesis chapter three. Death and the knowledge of good and evil are the source of all of humanities problems. The fear of death makes us want to survive and therefore develops greed, and the knowledge of good and evil allows us to have judgment and judge others as wrong when they do not agree with us and thereby we are provided with a reason for justification of our own actions.

Further, the atonement theory must take into consideration the fact that according to Paul et. al., we are in reality justified by our faith in the atoning force of Jesus of Nazareth and his death, burial and resurrection, and that this event has some spiritual cosmic significance. It is very important to consider Romans 5:1; "therefore, being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." According to Paul's premise, the reason for peace with God is the fact that we have been justified by faith alone.

Finally for this first post, it is important to realize that atonement is only mentioned a few times in the New Testament and the bulk of those mentions happen in 2 Corinthians 5:18-21. Therefore it is safe to say that this passage is very important in our understanding of an atonement theory. Atonement and reconciliation are interchangeable. The definition of atonement includes reconciliation because the word really comes from Middle English, and is literally at-one-ment. In other words atonement is to be put at one with something and that something is God the Father. If one is made at one with the father it means they are reconciled.

Reconciliation is going to be very important as I move forward with this series. We will look at how Paul speaks of the flesh as being similar in nature to what we would now call the ego. Being in the flesh is ego-centric and atonement will specifically help with that in a mystical, spiritual, supernatural way.

A little hint for where this is going. This will closely resemble the Christus Victor atonement with a caveat. But, essentially, Christ's victory is over the ego and He accomplishes it by faith in the Father. More to come... stay tuned.
 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Christ? Does it matter?

A while back I did a series of studies entitled in search of the kingdom of God. In these, I was trying to investigate what scripture had to say about the kingdom of God. I suspected that the way in which most evangelicals use the term kingdom of God was not really accurate. The first thing that I discovered is the phrase *the kingdom of God* is used most prevalently in four gospels and Acts. I believe that it was a first century Jewish term that anticipated the reign of the Messiah. It therefore would mean to the first century hearers the kingdom of the Messiah. If we were to express that in our terms today it would be the kingdom of Christ.

Why make this distinction, kingdom of God... kingdom of Christ what is the difference? I think there is a big difference from a New Covenant view. National Israel was the kingdom of God. God was their King. When reading I Samuel chapter 8 it is clear that God considered himself king of Israel. When Israel asked for a king they really were rejecting God as their king. Yet, in God's ultimate loving grace he provided a king for them at a future time. In fact, in reading Ephesians one it is seen that God had planned to give them a Messiah from before the foundation of the world. This kingdom was God's first purpose in creation. Before humanity was created and allowed to fall, the kingdom of the Messiah, (kingdom of Christ) had already been proclaimed by the word of God. It was a reality before creation. It merely awaited the time in which it would be fulfilled in linear time.

But you say, you still have not made a case for the importance of the distinction. Well, please be patient, I will. The difference is in who the actual king is. God, Yahweh, was their king under the old covenant. They were under a kingship that was predicated on a legal-constitutional reading of scripture. But, the kingdom of God prophesied in the gospels, would in fact be the kingdom of the Messiah (the kingdom of Christ.) When Israel rejected God as king, he said via the prophet Samuel, that if they wanted him back as their king he would not hear. However, grace and mercy prevailed and it unfolded that He had already made a provision for them to have a King.

It was a mystery to them, but He would become their king again via His Son Jesus. Often, I hear someone speak of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and often I fear that they mean God the Father. Since evangelical Christianity insists on a legal constitutional reading of scripture it is very easy to understand why this is happens, but the King of Kings and Lord of Lords of Revelation 19:16 is the *Word of God* verse 13. So then, make no mistake, the kingdom of God is really the kingdom of the King of Kings. It is the kingdom of Christ.

Now then, when one speaks of the principals of the kingdom of God or kingdom of God principals they are speaking of the kingdom of Christ. As I have demonstrated over and over on this blog, Jesus and his first century followers taught a Jesus of Nazareth centric view of the scripture and gave them a redemptive purpose taking away the legal-constitutional reading in favor of a redemptive view.  You can not teach kingdom of God principals from an old covenant mindset. It must be one that focuses on the risen Christ Jesus.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The centrality of Christ in the New Testament

I find it interesting that so many these days speak of faith for the sake of faith. The reality is that if one is a Christian, then faith should be in Christ Jesus. I wrote an article just a short time ago that asked the question whether we should present church or Christ. The obvious answer is that we should present Jesus Christ (1Cor 2:2.) The overwhelming message of the New Testament is the superiority of Jesus of Nazareth as the prophesied anticipated Messiah. When one looks at the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, known as the faith chapter, it is somewhat easy when isolating passages within the chapter to teach on faith for the sake of faith. I think I have been guilty of not making it clear enough what the object of our faith should be. Let me state it unequivocally; it is Jesus Christ.

Let me share the short *Cliff Notes* outline of Hebrews. Chapter 1 & 2 speaks of the superiority of Christ over angels. Chapter three begins the superiority of Christ over Moses and Judaism. He is greater than Moses in chapter three, and he is the Sabbath Rest in chapter four. In other words, the Sabbath was a picture of Jesus. Chapters 5-7 begins to show the superiority of Christ's priesthood. Chapter eight tells us that the whole point of the first seven chapters was to show that the New Covenant under Christ is superior to the Old Covenant. Then chapters 9 & 10 explain that the sacrifice of Christ is superior to the temple sacrifices and the temple formed by believers in the spirit is superior to the stone and mortar temple. Notice this, the entire book of Hebrews is ALL about Jesus and nothing else. Now enters chapter 11 which is the *faith chapter.*  It begins to point out all of the Old Covenant saints who had faith. To name some in a non-all-conclusive list are Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Sampson, Gideon, Jeremiah, Daniel, the three Hebrew Boys, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and on and on. This interesting thing though is that their faith is not even the point of the chapter.... that's right let me state again that their faith was not the point of the Chapter. The point of the chapter is found at the very end of chapter eleven.

Heb 11:39-40 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: (40) God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.


The point was that all of the hero's of faith in the Old Covenant could not be made perfect by their faith. They received a good report but were not made perfect. The reason was that they did not know exactly how the plan of redemption was going to play out. They did not know that Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ of God would by his faith make them all perfect. So you see, in the New Covenant, it is not sufficient to merely have faith. No, one must specifically have faith in Christ. All of the blessings of the New Covenant are channeled through Jesus Christ. He is pre-eminent. He, according to this same book is the author and finisher of our faith. We rob him of his glory when we do not make him pre-eminent in all of our teaching and sermons.

This is a beginning of a series in which I will show that the church today is presenting church and not Christ and that the sole job of the church is to present Christ.

Monday, February 23, 2015

How Spiral Dynamics may explain why Jesus redefined the phrase "word of God."

I have proven over, and again that Jesus and his first century apostolic followers and writers redefined the phrase word of God from scripture to gospel. Likewise, I have shown over and again that Jesus used a solely redemptive hermeneutic that was then reinforced by the Apostle Paul and all of the first century apostolic writers. I recently was watching a video blog over on presence.tv that adds a lot of credence to the why question. In fact, the three part series on Spiral Dynamics and the biblical narrative goes a long way to explain a lot about why the evangelical church has been so invested in the legal-constitutional use of scripture and has ignored or diminished the redemptive use of scripture. The three part introduction by Doug King is very informative and I recommend that everyone views all three, perhaps more than once... I know that I have.

I don't feel the need to rehash spiral dynamics in this blog post since the series I have recommended does such a good job, providing clarity and insight. I will provide links to each of the video presentations below so that you can watch them for yourself. I would recommend that you take your time and study them. Let me just most basically state that  if you have read the bulk of my blog articles on scripture and eschatology you will surely see that the answer to why theologians have missed this for 1800 plus years, (a title of one of my blog posts from a couple of years back.) As I have written so many posts on this subject one question I have gotten over and over from many people is  as follows; why have theologians missed something so obvious for so long?

I am happy to say that the answer to that question lies in spiral dynamics. In fact, I am quite certain that this understanding will go a long way in bridging the gap between Christianity and Judaism and will likely promote more acceptance of Christ than any one single thing among Jews. It should also help eliminate anti-Semitism. If you are familiar with this blog and have read many of my posts then you will readily see the connection. If you haven't, may I suggest that you go the categories listed on the blog and look at the articles under scripture and eschatology.

Here are the three posts on presence.tv that I recommend you read:

Part One    Part Two   Part Three ....... I challenge you to take some time with this in study and let me know what you think. Don't forget to study the blog posts under scripture and eschatology also!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Forty Prophecies in Forty Days #20 (1/2 way there) Who Caught Jesus’ Criticism?

Forty Prophecies in Forty Days #20 (1/2 way there) Who Caught Jesus’ Criticism?

Mat 23:15 “ Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.”

Can I take the time to translate that into today’s language? “Your are going to have problems, and I feel sorry for you, religious teachers, for you travel all over the place trying to make a convert, and when you do, you make him/her twice the child of hell that you are by putting them in total religious bondage.” That in essence is what Jesus was saying to the scribes and Pharisees. He started out in the passage to say that the scribes and Pharisees sat in Moses seat. That meant that they were speaking on behalf of God, but they were in great error.

I would warn that many religious leaders today in evangelical Christianity should take the time to read Matthew chapter 23 often. To answer the question of this post, the answer is that the only people… can I repeat that? ….THE ONLY PEOPLE, that Jesus criticized was religious leaders. Think about that; let that soak in. If you listen to most evangelical Christians today you would think that he was critical of fornicators and drunks. That was not Jesus priority. Why was that? Could it be that He knew that they were already totally alienated from God because of the fall, and that they needed to know that God was indeed a loving Father in heaven that had planned to redeem them from before the foundation of the world.

His concern was for all those who were being mistreated by religious leaders. He was upset with the greedy money changers that were ripping the people off by making them exchange their money for temple money. They traveled many miles to sacrifice and they could only sacrifice what was offered by the money changers, and the money changers charged exorbitant usury to sell the animals.  
 
All I can say is James warned about not being many teachers. He said that those who teach others, and set themselves up as religious leaders have a greater responsibility. He told his disciples that the Gentile leader’s lord over the people, and it should not be so with a disciple/apostle of Christ. There is so much ink in the gospels that religious leaders should be aware of because they would find that much of what they do does not square with the story of redemption at all. Again, to really understand the scripture, one must be very careful that they understand what part of the timeline is involved, and who a message was being spoke to. Most of the gospels were written about events under the Old Covenant before the cross. The fact is that the religious leaders under the old covenant were not to be emulated. Yet today so many religious leaders pattern themselves too closely to the old covenant leaders. Now is the time to re-examine our hermeneutic and see the transition that takes place within the pages of the New Testament. If we allow the Holy Spirit to be the guide we will arrive at very different conclusions.
 
The answer to the above question is that the only criticism that Jesus leveled was to religious leaders... pray and meditate on that!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Forty Prophecies in Forty Days #19 Presenting the church or presenting Christ

1Cor 2:2  “For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”

Paul told the believers in Corinth that he determined to know nothing except Christ and him crucified. Paul always presented Christ. Paul did not present the church to the people that he evangelized; my how time has changed the message. Most churches today present church to people. They invite them to attend church instead of inviting them to know Christ. They invite them to become members of the church instead of inviting them to a relationship with the living Lord. Oh, they say they do, they speak of relationship but in reality they are more interested in control, and keeping them in a pattern of behavior that mimics those of the other members. You have to ask yourself whatever happened to just presenting Christ?

Somewhere along the line “church” became about trying to control people. To make them believe that they could not properly hear from God without specially called ministers. Spiritual abuse is so prevalent these days, and it is all in the name of control. Still Paul made the statement in the above passage from 1 Corinthians. The first century believers turned the world upside down with the attitude that Christ Jesus was paramount to the message. They taught the pristine gospel of grace. The gospel of grace leads to freedom and love for God that in turn leads to supernatural transformation, but this is not so when people are merely presented church.

The main method for control is the legal constitutional reading of scripture. The control comes from stressing the rules and regulations that are from God. Adherence to the rules and the behavior lulls the person into believing that they are secure with God based upon their actions, behavior and conformity to the norms of the group. This never really works, people instinctively know that they do not measure up to the law of God ever. They never, ever feel right before God, not really.

This seems so foreign to the first century church. The people couldn’t wait to get together, and be with each other as they shared Christ. You can read of the love and closeness everywhere in the pages of the New Testament and yet, in most churches today people cannot wait until they have some alone time. They feel burnout. They stay in the group to escape feelings of guilt and judgment. Many do have a relationship with Jesus but it is distorted by the need for the hierarchy to stay in control. They are not presented the gospel of Christ. They are not presented Christ.

God is sick of church as usual, and He has all but abandoned the building. This new millennium will find those who are awakening to the love of Christ and want to present Christ to others. Presenting Christ, means presenting the pristine gospel; it means presenting the finished work that Jesus performed; it means presenting peace with God through Christ, it means presenting the fact that we are justified by the faith of Christ Jesus. It means that once a believer one is always the righteousness of God in Christ.